Pixel Scroll 3/13/20 The Sun Comes Shining As I Was Scrolling, The Pixels Waving And The Dust Clouds Rolling

(1) BUTTIGIEG INTERVIEWS SIR PAT. “Recently unemployed” Mayor Pete Buttigieg guest-hosted The Jimmy Kimmel Show. Due to public health concerns over the coronavirus, they cancelled their studio audience. Sir Patrick Stewart was a guest on the show.

Sir Patrick talks about Mayor Pete’s huge “Star Trek” fandom, civil disobedience, Sir Ian McKellen performing the multiple marriage ceremonies he had to his wife, and he surprises Mayor Pete with one of his original scripts from “Star Trek.”

They also did a sketch about “a Star Trek trivia game show for the ages called ‘Who’s the Captain Now?’” hosted by LeVar Burton.

(2) HELIOSPHERE CANCELLED. Heliosphere, which was to have been held April 3-5 in Tarrytown, NY has been called off. The committee has not yet decides whether to try and hold it later this year.

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, HELIOsphere 2020 will not be running as scheduled for April 3-5. At this time, we don’t know whether we will be postponing or simply cancelling for this year. We will keep you posted as we work out the details with the hotel.

(3) STOKERCON STATUS. The Horror Writers Association’s annual StokerCon is scheduled to be held in the U.K. next month. HWA President John Palisano gave this update to Facebook readers today:

At this time, more than two-thirds of attendees are based in the U.K., you should all be aware that the political situation has been changing by the hour. Only in the last 24 hours has travel in Europe (with the exception of the U.K.) been generally banned. The U.K. may take a similar step, or the U.S. may prohibit travel to and from there. So it’s a very real possibility that in the next few days, the decision of whether to hold the Con may be taken out of our hands. We don’t want to cancel the event unnecessarily, because that could cause severe financial hardship to many of our attendees and volunteers. On the other hand, we want to be respectful of individual decisions about whether or not to travel. We ask for you to be patient for a few more days while we try to sort out various options, including streaming the Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, our Librarians Day event, scheduled for May 7th of this year in Chicago, is still a go at this point. The organizers are also carefully watching this pandemic and are working on contingencies should the issues stretch that far into the future. They will have an announcement tomorrow.

Know that heading my first StokerCon as President of the HWA carries no small weight, and that my main priority is and will remain our members’ safety and well-being as we navigate these treacherous and unmapped waters.

(4) UP IN THE AIR. Fans inquiring about the status of Minicon 55, planned for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, have been told there’s a committee meeting this weekend and an announcement one way or the other may follow.

(5) MORE COVERAGE. Tor.com’s Andrew Liptak is also tracking the status of sff events. “Coronavirus: The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Conventions Canceled So Far”.

Those events include major science fiction, fantasy, and gaming conventions, as well as adjacent events like conferences. We’ve compiled a list of major and regional events that have been postponed, canceled, or which are as of now still running.

(6) SMITHSONIAN’S OPEN ACCESS IMAGE COLLECTION. We ought to be able to do a lot with this: “Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain”.

Culture connoisseurs, rejoice: The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before.

For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts.

And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting.

When I searched “science fiction” lots more photogenic things came up – from lunch boxes to C3PO – but I was intrigued by this 1951 Astounding advertising rate card:

(7) SCIENCE IN THE HOUSE. That’s candidate Brianna Wu’s latest appeal:

Media has focused on the dangers of Coronavirus. Brianna Wu speaks with Geneticist Frank Wu about the possible treatments and vaccines being developed by the biotech industry

(8) ANOTHER WORLD. Henry Lien posted this thought experiment on Facebook.

WHAT WOULD THE WORLD BE LIKE IF EVERYONE WERE LIKE YOU?
I used to play a game and ask people what the world would be like if everyone were like you. Here are some features of my world.
1. Restaurants would be filled with constant people traffic as everyone went to wash their hands after touching the menu and after touching cash.
2. Doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, hotel TV remotes, and ATM interfaces would all be redesigned for elbows.
3. There’d be no shoes in the house and people would bow instead of shaking hands.
4. Everyone would be at home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights happily writing, making music, reading, or playing Nintendo.
5. No one would get a cold more than once every ten years.
6. Extroverts and free-spirited folks would be miserable.

(9) SPEAKER IN THE HOUSE. Cat Rambo shares her experience in “How to Stay Sane and Productive While Working at Home”. One of her eight main headings is —

Exercise is good. You may not be able to get to the gym — I’m currently avoiding it, myself — but you will be happier and healthier if you are doing something. For me, that’s walking, because I’m lucky enough to live in a great area for it. I also have a standing desk that I got from Ikea years back. Your mileage may (literally) vary, but at least stretch when you can and be mindful of your back.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 13, 1927 Metropolis premiered in Germany. It was directed by Fritz Lang. It was written by Thea von Harbou in collaboration with Lang. It stars Gustav Fröhlich, Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Brigitte Helm. The film’s message is encapsulated in the final inter-title of “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.” In 2001 the film was placed upon UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, the first film so distinguished. It is considered one of the greatest films ever made, and has a 92% rating among audience members at Rotten Tomatoes. You can see it here.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 13, 1911 L. Ron Hubbard. Ok I’ll admit that I tried reading Battlefield Earth and really didn’t like it. Some of his early pulp fiction is actually quite good. So what do y’all think of him as a genre writer? (Died 1986.)
  • Born March 13, 1928 Douglas Rain. Though most of his work was as a stage actor, he was the voice of the HAL 9000 for 2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel. He’s in Sleeper a few years later as the voices of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers. (Died 2018.)
  • Born March 13, 1932 Richard Lawrence Purtill. He’s here because EoSF list him as the author of  Murdercon, a1982 novel where a murder is discovered at a SF Convention. I’ve not heard of it but was wondering if y’all had heard of this work. (Died 2016.)
  • Born March 13, 1938 David McKail, 82. He was Sergeant Kyle in the Fourth Doctor story, “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”. He also was Sir Henry Roscoe in Beatrix: The Early Life of Beatrix Potter, and was in the adaptation of Iain Banks’ The Crow Road which I know is neither genre or genre adjacent but it had Peter Capaldi in it.  
  • Born March 13, 1950 William H. Macy Jr., 70. I’ll start his Birthday note by noting that he was in the superb Pleasantville as George Parker. He’s shown up in a lot of genre works including but limited to Somewhere in Time, Evolver, The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, The Night of the Headless Horseman, Jurassic Park III, Sahara and The Tale of Despereaux.
  • Born March 13, 1956 Dana Delany, 63. I’ve come today to praise her work as a voice actress. She was in a number of DCU animated films, first as Andrea Beaumont in Batman: The Mask of The Phantasm, then as Lois Lane in Superman: The Animated Series, Superman: Brainiac Attacks and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. (That’s not a complete listing.) Remember that Wing Commander film? Well there was an animated series, Wing Commander Academy, in which she was Gwen Archer Bowman. 
  • Born March 13, 1966 Alastair Reynolds, 54. As depressing as they are given what they lead up to, The Prefect Dreyfus novels are my favorite novels by him. That said, Chasm City was fascinating. The only ones by him that I absolutely failed to get any enthusiasm for is his Revenger Universe series.
  • Born March 13, 1967 Lou Anders, 53. Hugo-winning Editor. He’s has been editorial director of Prometheus Books’ SF  imprint Pyr since its launch fifteen years ago. He’s a crack editor of anthologies. I’ve very fond of his Live Without a Net, Sideways in Time and FutureShocks anthologies. I note that he has a fantasy trilogy, Thrones and Bones, but I’ve not heard of it til now.
  • Born March 13, 1968 Jen Gunnels, 52. Writer and genre theater critic, the latter a rare thing indeed. She does her reviews for Journal of the Fantastic in the ArtsFoundation: The Review of Science Fiction and New York Review of Science Fiction. With Erin Underwood, she has edited Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy Plays

(12) KGB TO STREAM. The Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series with Daniel Braum and Robert Levy has been converted to a livestream. Hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel invite everyone to see it here on YouTube on March 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

We will, for the first time in our history, be live-streaming readings from both of our authors on YouTube. We hope you will join us for this historic event.

UPDATE March 13, 2020: For the safety and well-being of our readers and guests, we have decided to cancel this month’s in-person Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy.

Instead, we will be hosting a YouTube Live event with both authors, who will be reading their work. Anyone with YouTube access can watch.

(13) PIKE PEEK. We Got This Covered confirmed “Captain Pike Star Trek Spinoff Series Reportedly In Development”.

… Of course, there’ve been calls for CBS to move ahead with such a spinoff for the past couple of years. EP Alex Kurtzman has addressed the possibility in the past, refusing to rule it out and commenting that they’re trying to find ways to bring these characters back. True, they did all appear in a few episodes of the Short Treks anthology series, but this didn’t fully satiate our appetite to see more of Pike and his crew.

As Discovery itself addressed, Pike is fated to meet a tragic end. As detailed in an episode of TOS, he’s eventually left paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair after rescuing Starfleet cadets from a delta ray radiation leak. Our intel says that this spinoff show will build up to that fate, properly filling the gap between TOS‘ pilot, “The Cage,” and his return in “The Menagerie.”

(14) WEEKEND NEWS BACKDATE. Galactic Journey’s John Boston has a 1965 news flash: “[March 12, 1965] Sic Transit (April 1965 Amazing]”.

The big news, previously rumored, is that Amazing and its stablemate Fantastic are to change hands.  The April Science Fiction Times just arrived, with the big headline “ ‘AMAZING STORIES’ AND ‘FANTASTIC’ SOLD TO SOL COHEN.” Cohen is the publisher of Galaxy, If, and Worlds of Tomorrow, but will resign at the end of next month to take up his new occupation. 

Why is this happening?  Probably because circulation, which had been increasing, started to decline again in 1962 (when I started reviewing it!).  The SF Times article adds, tendentiously and questionably, that “the magazine showed what appeared to be a lack of interest by its editors.” Read their further comment and draw your own conclusions on that point.

(15) ACROSS THE DIVIDE. Law & Liberty’s Brian A. Smith, in “Ursula Le Guin and the Persistence of Tragedy”, looks at The Dispossessed from the right.

At least when their authors avoid offering a thesis, novels acquire peculiar value in deranged times. They allow us to see cracks in our political and social foundations from another perspective, and as a result, open paths to conversation and thought that might otherwise remain closed. Lots of genres can unsettle us, but one peculiarity of science fiction is that its authors have the freedom to create worlds.

At the genre’s most stereotypical, this license to invent lends itself to both ham-fisted allegories and didacticism. But if the author happens to be coming from the “right” direction, so to speak, and has some real talent, it’s relatively easy to take an imaginative leap into their world. Reaching beyond one’s own tribe may present a challenge, however. It is difficult to read David Drake, Iain Banks, China Miéville, Robert Heinlein, or John Varley without observing how they view human nature, what they think family means, or the political order they endorse—and a lot more besides.

Critics often complain that such novels fail precisely because they think the author is stacking the deck in favor of their pet ideas. It’s easy for partisans to forgive this because such novels entertain while also fortifying our opinions against a hostile world. And it’s not surprising that sci-fi readership so often divides along partisan lines.

The Work of Sympathy

It is harder to name many great works of science fiction that offer a definitive point of view, while also presenting us with unresolvable tensions and latent anxieties that no attentive reader can quite escape. Neal Stephenson’s best work probably qualifies. Arguably Frank Herbert’s Dune or Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos also do this. We need the sympathy and broadening of horizons that such novels can cultivate more than ever, and for the present moment, the most compelling book of this kind remains Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed.

(16) STANDING UP. “Disney promises LGBT ‘commitment’: ‘We want to represent our audience'”.

Disney has promised to continue making films and TV shows with “an increased commitment” to diversity in its output, according to its boss Bob Chapek.

“We want to represent our audience,” he said at a meeting for the company’s shareholders this week.

“We want to tell stories that our audience wants to hear, that reflects their lives.”

He was responding to a question about LGBT characters in their films and pride events at theme parks.

There will be a transgender character in a future Marvel film, and upcoming superhero movie The Eternals will introduce Marvel’s first openly gay lead character to cinema screens.

…At the shareholder’s meeting, Disney CEO Bob Chapek was asked a question by Catholic campaigner Caroline Farrow, who represents conservative group Citizen Go.

As part of her question, she asked: “Is it perhaps time to reconsider what you can do to make Disney more family friendly, to make it safe for people around the world, not just one particular minority?”

She also claimed a petition which asks Disney not to hold gay pride events in its parks was signed by “almost 700,000 people”

(17) CLIMB EV’RY MOUNTAIN – NOT. From the BBC — “Mount Everest: Nepal’s government shuts off mountain amid virus outbreak”.

Mount Everest has shut down for the rest of the expedition season because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Nepal’s government announced that it would cancel all climbing permits from 14 March until 30 April.

China had already cancelled expeditions from the northern, Chinese-controlled, side of the mountain.

According to the Kathmandu Post, Nepal earns $4m (£3.1m) by issuing Everest climbing permits every year, aside from wider tourism revenue.

(18) THAT IS NOT DEAD… “Marine pollution: Russian fly spray and 1800s shoes among beach litter”.

Russian fly spray, US prohibition-era rum, shoes from the 1800s and a council bin have been among the stranger items to have washed up on British shores.

To highlight pollution, the National Trust has revealed the oddest objects to wash up on beaches it manages.

The 19th Century shoes, Russian insect spray and an aerosol from Saudi Arabia were all found at Orford Ness, Suffolk.

The National Trust saidit illustrated the “deluge” of marine litter and how long items such as plastic could last.

(19) NO PICTURES! They tore it out by the roots: “Christmas Island: ‘A giant robber crab stole my camera'” — video, including some impressively mangled equipment and a crab walking off with a coconut.

Researcher Annabel Dorrestein set up a thermal imaging camera to study flying foxes, or bats, at night on Australia’s Christmas Island.

But when she returned one morning to collect the camera, she discovered it had been stolen – almost certainly by the island’s famous robber crabs.

[Thanks to Dann, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Andrew Porter, John King Tarpinian, Michael Toman, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Olav Rokne, Andrew Liptak, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

53 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/13/20 The Sun Comes Shining As I Was Scrolling, The Pixels Waving And The Dust Clouds Rolling

  1. I remember reading Richard Purtill’s Murdercon. I remember vaguely positive feelings about it. I assume I enjoyed it at the time.

    I retain absolutely no details about it. Just a vaguely positive feeling, which might easily not survive a reacquaintance with it.

  2. Born March 13, 1911 — L. Ron Hubbard. Ok I’ll admit that I tried reading Battleship Earth and really didn’t like it.

    I read it because I felt like I ought to. ‘Nuff said.

  3. (13) If we can have a Chris Pike and Number One series, can it please not resemble the other two current offerings? Not every damn series has to be serialized. Maybe the 1960s music could be used, too. They’ll be cruising around in the Enterprise, after all.

  4. (11) It’s Battlefield Earth, not Battleship Earth, and I expect I’m one of the few people here who has read it. My take is that it’s not nearly as bad as some of its reviews. There are some genuinely interesting characters but they’re smothered by all the bloat. There’s probably a reasonably good story in there if the book was only about half to one-third it’s actual length.

  5. Meredith Moment:

    Some good book deals this evening at Amazon US. My ad says they are only available today — so not much time left! — but it might be worth checking them tomorrow as well.

    Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone — $2.99
    — Haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on Mt. TBR. Published 2019.

    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman — $1.99
    — I liked this one better than American Gods, personally.

    Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell — $2.99
    — I love this series to death. Yes, some people complain that book 1 has a YA tone, and it sorta does, but it’s still a lot of fun. Subsequent books in the series are less YA. And yes, it’s a completed series — the final book was just published a few months ago, sob. (Narrated in audio by Joe Jameson, who is excellent.)

    A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by CA Fletcher — $1.99
    — Just published 2019, this is actually kind of an oxymoron: a somewhat heartwarming post-apocalyptic story. It’s not perfect, but I enjoyed it. (I recommend it in audio — it’s narrated by the author, and he does a fine job.)

  6. It’s amazing to me how quickly people have gone from ‘there could never be a China style lockdown in a democratic country’ to ‘we need more lockdown type measures, NOW’. I don’t really have an opinion on whether it’s the right thing to do, it’s just notable how what’s acceptable can change.

  7. @6: they say the Smithsonian is the nation’s attic; that rate card is a good example.

    @10: the Metropolis old fans know is a gutted version of the original; people keep finding copies with previously-unseen pieces. I saw the latest restoration (2010), a few years ago, with the accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra; it’s still pompous in places (and by modern standards overacted, like most silent films), but tells a larger story than the version I saw in 1979.

    @11 (Hubbard): my recollection of the bits of pre-Scientology works I read is that they were superficial even by the standards of the time; I’m unsurprised by stories he had his typewriter fitted with a roll so he wouldn’t lose time feeding sheets, or that he turned out a 35,000-word story in a week. OTOH, that work certainly isn’t as consciously dreadful as Fanthorpe.

    @16: cheers to Disney for telling the bigots what I learned to abbreviate as FOaD.

    @bookworm1398: I haven’t heard/seen/read anyone talking about a China-style lockdown, in which (IIRC) people in the affected area could only leave their houses once every other day. (I’m sure there are people talking about it, just as one idiot letter-writer to the local paper asked why we were so fussed about a few plague deaths (single digits in the paper’s coverage at the time) when there are tens of thousands dying each year from guns, but they haven’t been visible around here.) It will be interesting to see how this plays out, with all the variable responses; e.g., Boston colleges have all shut down for the year, but my high school in western MA is currently planning to let students come back in mid-April.

  8. Contrarius: Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone

    I liked how it started out, but it’s very long — possibly needed to be tightened up more. Halfway through it felt really bogged-down and I was thinking that it would sink and fail under its own weight, but the author manages to pull out a good ending. My verdict: very good, worth reading, but flawed and not on my Hugo Novel longlist.

  9. My employer has sent me home, and today I had a surreal adventure traveling across town in search of a monitor. Most of San Francisco is also grounded and things like monitors and ethernet cables were in short supply. I had to get a 24″ TV instead.
    I am very grateful I found a job that I can do at home. This will be a lot like that long stretch of unemployment I endured last year, except with spreadsheets and paychecks. Today my SJW credential greeted this development by marching into my office and crapping on the floor. I miss my real office, with the good coffee and nice view.
    Schools are closed. My three days of Ween concerts in Las Vegas got cancelled. Lots of public madness. Trying to not be gloomier and gothier than usual (but fortunately there’s no one around to witness when I lapse).

  10. 11) Battlefield Earth is a bad book, but on occasion it manages to be bad enough to be good. (Or so I remember it at a three decade remove. Nothing could compel me to revisit it.)

    11bis) Surely a work that opens with an exploding grandmother is at least a wee bit genre adjacent?

  11. Ahem. Richard L. Purtill wrote a rather lovely fantasy trilogy, beginning with The Golden Gryphon Feather, which as I recall Baird Searles compared to Thomas Burnett Swann. He also wrote a well-regarded study of Tolkien and Lewis from a Christian perspective. And more, of course. He died three years ago, which I read about here:

    http://file770.com/richard-purtill-1931-2016/

  12. For those using the codex of the countenance, Concellation 2020 is up and running. Beware!

  13. @Chip Hitchcock

    I haven’t heard/seen/read anyone talking about a China-style lockdown, in which (IIRC) people in the affected area could only leave their houses once every other day. (I’m sure there are people talking about it, just as one idiot letter-writer to the local paper asked why we were so fussed about a few plague deaths (single digits in the paper’s coverage at the time) when there are tens of thousands dying each year from guns, but they haven’t been visible around here.) It will be interesting to see how this plays out, with all the variable responses; e.g., Boston colleges have all shut down for the year, but my high school in western MA is currently planning to let students come back in mid-April.

    In many European countries, the panic and the measures taken are escalating, even if they don’t actually have a lot of cases. Schools are closed, even though that will help not at all, if all the kids are running around outside with their friends (and they are). Events are cancelled, sometimes pubs and even restaurants are closed. Some countries are closing all shops except for pharmacies, grocery stores and drug stores. Germany not yet, but they’re getting increasingly hysterical. People are stealing disinfectant from hospitals. Supposed doctors and health experts are openly talking about letting patients die. Many borders are closed, people from whole countries and sometimes whole continents are banned from crossing those borders, even if they don’t come from regions that have an outbreak. There’s a lot of xenophobic rhetoric everywhere and everybody is pointing fingers at people from other countries and no longer only at Asians either, but at everybody. I’m fast losing my faith in humanity here.

    So far, we only have a few cases, all traceable, in my region and the deaths (comparatively few in Germany) are all elsewhere. Besides, I’m self.employed and work from home anyway. I’m not high risk either, though I’m worried about my parents who are elderly and have health issues which increase their risk. My Mom doesn’t go out much, but my Dad still works.

  14. I’m only (“only”) sixty–I’m not old enough to remember a time when reading Hubbard was an acceptable thing for people to do! 😀

  15. This has appeared on the Balticon 54 page:

    The March 14 Balticon Planning Meeting & BSFS Business Meeting will be held remotely only.

  16. I read Battlefield Earth the year the paperback came out because my mother bought me a Battlefield Earth calendar because she thought I’d read it, but I’d been avoiding it because of the review in Analog. (Do not even attempt to diagram that sentence…)

    I agree with Rich Lynch that the book was bloated — and that it had memorable parts along the bloated way. It also had some bad science. Not to mention outdated POVs. (I seem to remember a Psychlo woman who managed to be a ditzy secretary.)

    I liked the Battlefield Earth calendar more because it listed the birthdays of famous SF writers, which was really cool. Like Cat Eldridge’s contributions but without the cool information.

  17. Camestros Felapton says New Zealand will require people who arrive in the country – including returning Kiwis – to self-isolate for a 14 days as the country locks down to ward off the spread of coronavirus, excluding people from the Pacific Islands.

    So that means that you’ll be required to stay in your hotel room for fourteen days before you can venture into public? That effectively kills tourism in New Zealand until they rescind this order and makes WorldCon impossible as almost no one cab build an additional fourteen days into their schedule.

  18. Cat Eldridge: That effectively kills tourism in New Zealand until they rescind this order

    I think that is precisely the intent. Tourism has been the main cause of the disease’s dissemination throughout the world, and New Zealand is trying to put off mass infection as long as it can. Returning New Zealanders will be able to self-isolate in a way that tourists could not.

    Worldcon isn’t for several months yet. Who knows how things will play out between now and then?

  19. I’m never going to touch it again, but when I was in high school, I though Battlefield Earth was on average an entertaining book, in the same sense that you could drown in a stream that on average was shallow enough to wade across.

    I think I tried a volume or two of that 10-book series he started putting out after BE, but that’s the full and complete extent of my Hubbard reading.

    As far as Alastair Reynolds, I haven’t read much of his stuff yet — just House of Suns and the first two Revenger books — but I really enjoyed them and the Revenger series in particular seemed targeted at my particular interests with an almost laser-like focus.

  20. I’ve heard some people speak quite well of earlier Hubbard offerings like Slaves of Sleep and Typewriter in the Sky… trouble is, I’ve heard the same people speak quite well of things that turned out, upon examination, to be complete dross, so I’ve not really had the heart to investigate further.

  21. 7) Frank Wu was on a couple of the panels I went to at Boskone. He’s very enthusiastic and a talented artist. During one of the panels, there was a discussion of tardigrades, during which he drew a quick sketch of one and held it up so the audience could see what they looked like.

  22. I found the Revenger series a bit slow and implausible at first, but the characters and situations were engaging enough that I’m in the library queue for the third book.

    @Cora Buhlert: Schools are closed, even though that will help not at all, if all the kids are running around outside with their friends (and they are). ISTM that playing out in the open with a few people is very different from sitting for hours in close proximity to a couple of dozen (guess — I don’t know how your class sizes run); ISTM it’s a form of curve-flattening, which a number of sources are suggesting is the best we can hope for. Boston proper tried to keep schools open (while excusing all absences) after many of the adjacent communities shut down, because a lot of Bostonians are poor enough to rely on the schools for child custody and feeding while the parents work; but the superintendent announced late yesterday that Monday is the last open day — and our guess is that’s mostly so kids can pick up any property (personal or loaned) they left at the schools.

  23. re: Hubbard – I read Battlefield Earth because when it came out, I was unfamiliar with Hubbard or his reputation, and it was a nice big book to take with me on a family vacation. And then it was the ONLY book I had, so I really had no choice but to finish it. It was bloated and really quite pulpy. I remember being boggled that Our Hero was Ultra Competent at Everything, despite (if memory serves) being raised either feral or a slave or both (can’t recall details now; not going back to check).

    It strongly reminded me of the “John Carter” Burroughs books in that sense, but written 70 years later. The state of the genre had moved on significantly….

    re: Disney – I’ll give them this much; a cell-phone-game advertisement that I see on a regular basis from them about holding weddings at Disney shows a pair of giddy brides as one of their happy couples. No pairs of grooms; I expect that the whole “lesbians are unthreatening and acceptable but people are afraid of gay-men cooties” thing is part of the calculus here, but at least it’s something.

  24. Happy post-Hugo-nomination day! 😉 In honor of that, a Meredith Audio Moment:

    The Audible.com deal of the day is Forward: Stories of Tomorrow for only $2.95. This is a collection of “Amazon original stories” by Veronica Roth, Blake Crouch, N. K. Jemisin, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay, and Andy Weir. The 8.5-hour collection from 2019 has six narrators (presumably one per story).

    The tagline is: “For some, it’s the end of the world. For others, it’s just the beginning. With brilliant imagination, today’s most visionary writers point to the future in a collection curated by bestselling author Blake Crouch. These stories range from darkly comic to deeply chilling, but they all look forward.”

  25. The only aspect of coronavirus-related societal semi-self-quarantine that really worries me is obtaining animal feed. I already have enough groceries to last me a few weeks, and grocery stores would be the last to shut down anyway; I live alone on 6 acres, not crammed into an apartment building; I work at home; my prescription meds are not immediately essential to life (nothing like insulin); and so on. BUT I have tons of animals, and their feed is too bulky to stockpile for weeks at a time.

    It’s always something!

  26. @Kendall et al —

    The Audible.com deal of the day is Forward: Stories of Tomorrow for only $2.95. This is a collection of “Amazon original stories” by Veronica Roth, Blake Crouch, N. K. Jemisin, Amor Towles, Paul Tremblay, and Andy Weir. The 8.5-hour collection from 2019 has six narrators (presumably one per story).

    I’ve listened to one of those already, Emergency Skin by Jemisin. The story itself is pretty good, but the narration — by Jason Isaacs — is wonderful.

  27. Empress of Forever was a great far-future novel but it was ultimately unsatisfying because [REDACTED].

  28. Does 2-for-1 count as a Meredith Moment?

    Audible.com is having a 2-for-1 Stellar Storytellers Sale on selected books across various categories (mysteries, non-fiction, self-help, SFF, et al.). The SFF page has a lot of books listed – more than you see in the carousel, so do click “View All” or follow my second link to see the 90-100 or so titles.

    I’m picking up N.K. Jemisin’s Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1 of . . . 2?) and A.G. Riddle’s Departure (which I believe/hope is a stand-alone). Both have languished on my list for quite some time. Departure has some “extras” on the author’s web site.

    ETA: @Contrarius: Groovy. 🙂 And good luck with the feed supply-chain!

  29. Cat Eldridge on March 14, 2020 at 2:43 am said:

    So that means that you’ll be required to stay in your hotel room for fourteen days before you can venture into public? That effectively kills tourism in New Zealand until they rescind this order and makes WorldCon impossible as almost no one cab build an additional fourteen days into their schedule.

    I assume that is the idea. Australia has reached the closing down large gathering stage but NZ is still at a handful of infection stage. If they cut down inward travel now they can prolong that stage even longer which gives them more time to prepare.

  30. Cora Buhlert wrote: “I’m fast losing my faith in humanity here.”

    Good news/bad news for me; good news, I lost my faith in humanity some time ago, so I am coasting through this; bad news, I lost my faith in humanity some time ago.

    Hubbard’s Astounding serial To the Stars, reprinted in paperback as Journey to Tomorrow, or something like that, was pretty good. Weird in a late classical sci-fi way, but pretty good. Also short. I’ve heard good things about Fear and other early work, but I haven;t had time to bother with them.

    Reynolds, on the other hand, strikes me as the true heir of Hugo Gernsback, and it continues to astonish me that he has not yet won a Hugo. I liked Blue Remembered Earth quite a bit, and CHasm CIty, and his short stuff is usually pretty good. His story about a star-faring Mongol empire was a hoot.

  31. Cora: School is often a locale with as many as 1000 or 1500 different students in one building, sitting in close quarters 10-25 at a time, or more in poorer or more crowded places, breathing air run through the same circulation system, touching items and places everyone else has been, with no way any cleaning process could be thorough enough to degerm unless the whole system turns upside down, and with only a few public shared washrooms and some science labs/shop rooms to wash hands in. Those students are often wildly divergent demographics, who go back to their family and outside-school social circles (churches, synagogues, sports leagues). Schools are germ factories at the best of times.

    Kids running around together in small doses, a few friends here, a few friends there, outdoors or in houses, and with easier controlled handwashing assuming reasonable parental guidance, are highly unlikely to spread any disease as quickly, to as many people, or through as diverse a set of social groups.

    It makes sense to me, and my kids are in a school with only 130 total students (albeit extremely socially and culturally diverse).

    Right now, with all of 3 cases in this city, all international travel, our schools are planning to start spring break a week early, run it for three weeks instead of one, and wait and see. Teachers will probably be setting up lesson plans but I am going to have to start googling a lot more activities… The day cares have listed extra precautions, advise shorter hours where possible, and sound like they will be calling parents much more often and more strictly than they already do for sickness, but haven’t said they will close. So I have to start planning kid activities for extra days, some of which should be at least a bit educational.

  32. Lenora Rose: Schools are germ factories at the best of times.

    When my daughter was in elementary school I knew I could count on knowing whatever was going around — because I’d have it.

  33. Richard Purtill is well noted among Tolkien and CS Lewis scholars for Lord of the Elves and Eldils (1974), which demonstrated that The Lord of the Rings was a story that was (as Tolkien put it, in a letter then unpublished) fundamentally religious in nature. And he did it without either Tolkien’s testimony or the more obviously religiously-based Silmarillion to go on. A really remarkable achievement. He also, in a later book (J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion) argued that no, “Leaf by Niggle” is not an allegory: its symbolism is too complex to reduce to that level. Purtill was a remarkable scholar worth remembering.

    Douglas Rain may be seen on screen in the 1957 Canadian Oedipus Rex as Creon. That’s the version Tom Lehrer was thinking of when he wrote his “theme song” for the story.

  34. Brown Robin says Reynolds, on the other hand, strikes me as the true heir of Hugo Gernsback, and it continues to astonish me that he has not yet won a Hugo. I liked Blue Remembered Earth quite a bit, and CHasm CIty, and his short stuff is usually pretty good. His story about a star-faring Mongol empire was a hoot.

    And what’s the name of that story? I’d very much like to read it. And yes, Chasm City is quite good. I need to finish the Blue Remembered Earth series.

  35. Camestros Felapton says I assume that is the idea. Australia has reached the closing down large gathering stage but NZ is still at a handful of infection stage. If they cut down inward travel now they can prolong that stage even longer which gives them more time to prepare.

    I sssume that they’re hoping that they’ve got so few cases that they can prevent the pandemic from taking root there. I wish them the best of luck as they’ll need it.

  36. I loved Dave Langford’s review of Battlefield Earth even if it left me no desire to read the novel. I remember seeing the inflatable Psychlo used to promote the book at a con (probably Seacon, the 1984 Eastercon)

  37. @Cora Buehlert: in addition of what has been said earlier: Closing schools also relieves public transport. And in combination with closing of venues (cinemas etc.) has proven effective.

    Now my school will be closed next werk, which we only found out during classes yesterday, which was nuts. Now we are required to go to school on our normal hours, when school closed „until further notice“. Now i suspect this is so we can plan and organize the examns and the emergency care, so we don’t actually have to be in an otherwise empty school instead of working from home (we are expected to upload learning material), but right now I know nothing.

    This uncertainty is whats driving me nuts right now.

  38. Cat Eldridge wrote: “And what’s the name of that story?”

    Ah, crap. I’m sorry, I’m not sure. A quick check of isfdb….”The Six Directions of Space” maybe…I think.

  39. @Paul King: I suspect the inflatable was getting a little ratty by then, as the book had been out for a couple of years. Those of us who flew into O’Hare for Chicon IV (1982) were remarking on the extended billboard for BE on a straight stretch of the highway into town, but IIRC the extension was flat rather than inflated. (The highway was the only way in at the time — the El didn’t extend to O’Hare until later.)

  40. Kendall: Meredith Audio Moment: The Audible.com deal of the day is Forward: Stories of Tomorrow for only $2.95.

    I don’t do audiobooks, but thanks for mentioning it, because the e-book collection is also on sale for $2.94 (49c per story).

    AND you get the Audible narrations for the low, low price of an additional ZERO DOLLARS!!!

  41. @Brown Robin: The impression I’ve had, which may or may not be correct, is that Reynolds (like many British authors) had troubles cracking the American market for a while, which always makes it harder to win some of those big awards.

  42. @Cat:

    I sssume that they’re hoping that they’ve got so few cases that they can prevent the pandemic from taking root there. I wish them the best of luck as they’ll need it.

    Best case is still acknowledged to be that it will get worse before it gets better.
    “[The PM] said while it is not realistic for New Zealand to only have a handful of coronavirus cases, the changes would slow the spread of infection.”

  43. Chip Hitchcock: I found the Revenger series a bit slow and implausible at first, but the characters and situations were engaging enough that I’m in the library queue for the third book.

    I’ve read the entire trilogy and I really enjoyed it. My main quibble with it is that there are several “logical leaps” where one of the main characters figures out something important without, in my opinion, having been given sufficient evidence to actually come to that correct conclusion. But they are great adventure stories (although Doctor Science would take issue with the high body count of major characters, and she wouldn’t be wrong about that).

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